As the signs of the familiar Canadian winter start to set in, one of the most important ways to maximize safety on the roads is to install winter tires on your car. Compared to all-season tires, winter tires consistently outperform all-season tires in terms of traction, cornering, and braking in winter conditions.1 Having winter tires on your car will reduce your chances of a collision, keep you safe in unpredictable weather, and even save some money on your auto insurance policy.
The best time to install winter tires is before the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius or before the first snowfall of the season.2 In Ontario, this means that the best time to put on your winter tires is in October or November. The 7-degree rule also applies when the time comes to remove your winter tires. When the temperature rises above 7 degrees in the springtime, it means that it's time to put on your all-season or regular tires.3
There are numerous benefits of winter tires, as compared to all-season or regular tires. Winter tires are better equipped to handle snow, slush, and low temperatures by their improved traction. The rubber compounds in winter tires stay softer to minus 40 degrees Celsius, which leads to better grip on road surfaces.4 This is compared to the rubber compounds in all-season tires, which tend to harden in colder temperatures and lose their grip on the road. The materials and technology used in winter tires are better equipped for winter conditions when compared to all-season tires.
Winter tires are lead to increased safety on the roads because they are designed with tread patterns that are designed to push water away.5 This means that the tires stay in better contact with the road's surface.
Having winter tires on your car are essential when braking in icy and slippery roads. Winter tires can shorten braking distances up to 25%.6 In a breaking test done by Tire Rack, a car with winter tires took 18 metres to stop, whereas the car with all-season tires took 27.1 metres to come to a stop.7 When braking in winter conditions, having winter tires can mean all the difference between coming to a safe stop and getting into a collision.
However, it is always important to keep in mind that you must install matching sets of four winter tires, according to Transport Canada.8 Failure to put on a set of four winter tires on your car can lead to loss of control of the vehicle and can create a dangerous situation on the road. You should never mix different types of tires on your vehicle.9
Beyond the increased safety that winter tires provide, they can also save you a few bucks. Certain insurance companies offer to drivers who install winter tires up to 5% off their auto insurance premium.10
Keep these important tips in mind as you get your car ready for the winter and prepare for the trickier conditions of winter driving.
1. Traffic Injury Research Foundation, "Winter Tires: A Review of Research on Effectiveness and Use," https://tirf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2012_Winter_Tire_Report_7.pdf at page 31.
2. Bob Redinger, "Winter tires: when is the best time to get them on your vehicle?" https://www.thestar.com/autos/2016/10/22/winter-tires-when-is-the-best-time-to-get-them-on-your-vehicle.html
3. Canada Drives, "The Ultimate Guide to Winter Tires in Canada," https://www.canadadrives.ca/blog/maintenance/are-winter-tires-worth-the-money
4. Cliff Lafreniere, "The many benefits of installing winter tires" https://www.thestar.com/autos/opinion/2019/10/11/the-many-benefits-of-installing-winter-tires.html
5. Canada Drives, "The Ultimate Guide to Winter Tires in Canada," https://www.canadadrives.ca/blog/maintenance/are-winter-tires-worth-the-money
7. Traffic Injury Research Foundation, "Winter Tires: A Review of Research on Effectiveness and Use," https://tirf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2012_Winter_Tire_Report_7.pdf at page 10.
8. Cliff Lafreniere, "The many benefits of installing winter tires" https://www.thestar.com/autos/opinion/2019/10/11/the-many-benefits-of-installing-winter-tires.html
10. Morrison Insurance, "Ontario Winter Tire Insurance Discount: Drive Safe and Save!" https://www.morisoninsurance.ca/news/winter-tire-insurance-discount/
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